Rarely a week goes by without some new poll regarding the shifting religious landscape in America. But when I picked up the latest Christianity Today and reviewed the “Gleanings”, one thing jumped off the page and surprised me. Under the heading “Americans love to switch religious teams” was a sub category labeled those “most likely to become unaffiliated”. It listed the four leading groups as, Congregationalists 28%, Episcopalians 27%, Presbyterians 25% and nondenominational 25%. I wasn’t in the least surprised at the first three, but the last caused me to pause. Why would we (and other nondenonminationals) be losing those raised in our churches at such a high rate. I know this is a catch-all for a lot of various groups, nevertheless look around! Does anyone have an idea why we lose so many of our young? Are there some precautions we can take more than we are doing? Is there some strategy we have overlooked?
I received a call out of the clear blue from a fellow who simply introduced the call with “I am from Indiana and looking for someone to do a wedding in your area.” I suspect that it was a call that is related to the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding same-sex marriage. I replied that I only perform ceremonies for our local members and he promptly hung up. While I have no evidence, I suspect that this is an example of pushing an agenda and let the unsuspecting beware.
August 1, 2015 Walter Palmer is the MN dentist who loves big game hunting and ended up killing one of Kenya’s beloved protected animals – a lion named Cecil. The lion was lured off of his protected game preserve to allow Palmer to kill him using a bow and arrow. His poor shot resulted in the lion being trailed for hours before finally being put down with a rifle. The authorities have arrested his Kenya guide and others involved with the killing of Cecil and USA game management said they will cooperate with Kenya authorities if they choose to extradite Palmer. When word got out, both Kenyans and Americans were outraged. Protesters gather daily outside Palmer’s dentist office in MN.
While I am equally outraged with Palmer’s actions, I am even more aghast at the actions recently revealed by the upper crust of Planned Parenthood. Evidently they have for some time been harvesting aborted baby parts and selling them on the open market. In several released interviews they are seen haggling over the price so as to make the most profit possible. One Planned Parenthood official boasted that with the money she was making she could afford a new Lamborghini. Shock and outrage are feelings too mild and villainy and wickedness are words too kind to describe the actions of these officials of Planned Parenthood. To multiply the evil we simply need to understand that this is a government funded organization. They are using our tax money to fund this treachery.
So while citizens protest the death of Cecil the lion, why is there no hue and cry against PP? Why are there no protests? In another day the Prophet Isaiah described the condition which apparently now exists in America: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”
The World Almanac and Book of Facts polled 2000 eighth-graders to discover whom they most admired and wanted to be like. Every single person they named was an entertainer or sports figure. There were no politicians, no doctors, no ministers, no statesmen, no authors, and no presidents; if you weren’t an entertainer or sports icon, you weren’t on the list. The list did not contain a single figure who had made a substantial contribution to society. I remember who I most admired when I was in the eighth grade. We had a caring and personable preacher at our church who cared not only about adults but about eighth graders as well. Billy Ringgold had a quick smile and a friendly demeanor. He helped people be better people. Aside from my own dad, he was the one I most admired and wanted to be like. Guess what? I’m still trying. This is Just-A-Minute.
A lot of church members believe that when they’ve gone to church on Sunday, they have done their job as far as being a Christian is concerned. But the truth is that is a very small part of following Jesus. Everywhere we go and all-of-the-time we are either lifting up the name of Jesus to those we meet or we are treading it underfoot. At the work place as well as the church house, we are watched. At a restaurant, at a ball-game, waiting in line at a grocery store, wherever we are, we leave an impression for good or ill. The way we answer the phone, the way we speak to a waitress, the patience we show in heavy traffic, the kindness shown to a child, the sensitivity we give to a patient; all of this speaks louder than an hour we spend at worship. I’m not saying Sunday is unimportant. I am saying that Monday through Saturday count, too. You may be the only Bible many folks will ever read. What will others learn when they read your life? This is Just-A-Minute.
Some time back I opened the USA Today and as I grazed the news I reached the Opinion section. There Amanda Marcotte, one of their regular contributors on pop culture, wrote: “as youthful cohabitation rises, parents should accept it and educate their children on sex.” She used Angelina Jolie as an example who in 2011 shocked her fans telling them she lived with her boyfriend when she was fourteen and planned the same for her daughter. Here we have the nation’s newspaper trumpeting propaganda for younger and younger fornication with the parental stamp of approval. Boys and girls at fourteen years old are not yet out of elementary school. Marcotte’s promised panacea is actually a Pandora’s Box of promiscuousness and perversity. If it is ever opened, as was the closet, we will have a hard time closing it. This is Just-A-Minute.
For decades the granite statue of the virgin Mary over in Ballinspittle, Ireland had only a trickle of visitors. However, for a while now at least tens of thousands of pilgrims thronged their way to this isolated village to view the statue. You see a report was circulated that someone claimed to have seen it move. Then as interest peaked others made the same claim. Ballinspittle is overrunning with crowds and the souvenir shops and street vendors are doing a brisk business. Why do so many flock to these alleged phenomena? It is natural that we all would rather walk by sight than by faith. But the fact is we are called to walk by faith. You don’t need a statue of granite to move to believe. Just make your choice, believe. Trust God, trust Jesus. What do you have to lose? Your sin and guilt and wayward life? But look at what you gain? The richest life that can be lived here and after eternal life beyond. This is Just-A-Minute